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Biogen said Thursday it will pay more than $1 billion to the biotech firm Denali for rights to a Parkinson’s drug based on an approach that was nearly abandoned by several major pharmaceutical firms in recent years but that has since shown potential to help treat the disease. The deal also includes rights to a Denali technology for delivering medicines to the brain.

“This is a major milestone,” said Ryan Watts, Denali’s CEO and co-founder. He said the company had “the firepower to do very thorough science and drug development,” which meant that it also had the wherewithal to previously move beyond the failure of other promising programs.


Under the terms of the deal — which does not include Denali’s flagship asset, a drug for Hunter syndrome — Biogen will pay Denali $560 million and purchase $465 million to purchase stock equivalent to 11.2% of Denali’s outstanding shares. If the Parkinson’s drugs meet unspecified development and commercial goals, Denali could receive up to $1.125 billion more.

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